Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 14, 1452 in the town of Vinci near Florence Italy. He kept the name of his town for his last name. He lived during the fifteenth century, a period when the people of Europe were becoming interested in art. This period of time was known as the Renaissance period.
Leonardo Da Vinci was very talented. He was a great artist, but he became famous because he was able to do so many other things. He was an architect, a musician, inventor, sculptor, scientist, and mathematician. His artistic talent revealed its self early in his life.
When he was about 15 years old Leonardo’s father took him to Florence Italy, to train as a painter and sculptor in the studio of Andrea del Verroccho. He studied with this master until the age of twenty five. At this point, he set up his own business and was famous for being a painter and a man of science. As a scientist, he observed everything he could in nature. Leonardo used what he learned from nature and science to make his paintings look real. He drew and took many notes of what he observed. His notes were written backwards, probably because he didn’t want people to read about his discoveries and observations. In order to read Leonardo’s notes, one has to hold them up to a mirror.
In 1472 he entered a painters’ guild.His earliest extensive works date back to this time. In 1482 Da Vinci worked for Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan for 18 years. He fulfilled the position as court artist, but also worked as an engineer and architect. While in Milan Leonardo developed more theories about painting. Leonardo believed that knowledge should be based on observation. He believed that observation led to understanding, and artists had an obligation to record this understanding by painting accurate images. He made sketches of everything around him. This caused him to make a master plan, his plan was to record the structure of every building in the world. He believed that this would uncover laws of harmony and proportion.
In the fall of 1499 Leonardo left France and headed to Florence. There he painted paintings such as, Battle of Anghiari a mural that was painted for the Council Chamber of Town Hall, the famous portrait named the Mona Lisa, and Leda and the Swan. Leonardo used everything he learned from nature and science to paint these paintings. He used shadowing effects to make these paintings look solid and lifelike. While painting Leonardo not only tried to show what his subject looked like, but he also tried to show their mental state of mind.
In June 1506, Leonardo returned to work in Milan for the French government. Leonardo’s scientific research began to dominate his activities, this led to scientific illustration through his drawings. In 1513 Leonardo went with Pope Leo’s X’s brother, Giuliano de’ Medici, to Rome. While in Italy Da Vinci became engrossed in theoretical research. Da Vinci stayed in Rome for three years and then left never to return. Once Leonardo left he became an architectural advisor to King Francis the 1st of France. At the age of 67 Leonardo died on May 2,1519 but he and his art work will never be forgotten.
In 1503 Leonardo was asked by Francesco del Giocondo to paint a portrait of his wife, Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is considered to be one of the worlds best known paintings. The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a woman who is wearing a dress and a heavy cloak made out of a velvety material. A vail drapes over her head matching her dark brown hair and clothing. She is sitting in front of a landscape that has many valleys of water and many tall mountains, which creates a misty background-the sfumato effect. One of the reasons the painting is famous is because the artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, painted his subject with a smile that radiates many feelings- such as dignity and calmness, giving her a sense of mystery. This painting is not only famous but important in art history. Instead of using layers of paint to create texture, Leonardo used shadowing effects to add texture to the painting. Leonardo did this in many different sections of the painting such as her face, hands, her velvety cloak, and the background. Another feature that makes this painting famous and a wonder to look at is her hands, Leonardo studied her hands very closely to make the shape and the structure realistic. One would think that the hands in this painting aren’t very important but if you take them away the balance of the painting alters. Thus making them vital to the painting. Another attribute about this painting is that it is Leonardo’s favorite that he made. People all over the world consider Leonardo as one of the finest painters that ever lived.